News / Africa

Sierra Leone Uses New Device to Improve Power Supply

A "System Classic" device that detects faulty cables, Freetown, Sierra Leone, Dec. 24, 2013. (Nina deVries for VOA)
A "System Classic" device that detects faulty cables, Freetown, Sierra Leone, Dec. 24, 2013. (Nina deVries for VOA)
Sierra Leone's National Power Authority [NPA], which is responsible for providing the country with power, has deployed a new device that can detect faulty underground cables. The hope is to help provide electricity around-the-clock through the use of this equipment. It will have a great impact on Sierra Leoneons, who face blackouts on a regular basis.

People in Sierra Leone have been without consistent power since the 1980s. That was when demand for power began to increase. Then in 1991, civil war broke out, lasting 11 years. It left the country in shambles. Many power facilities were destroyed and people migrated to Freetown, the capital. This increased the population even more and caused higher demand than NPA could handle.

In Freetown, blackouts can occur on a daily basis and parts of the country still have no power at all.

December is the most festive season for Sierra Leone, and music can be heard all over as carnival parties heat up.

Faulty cables

If there is no national power and you do not have a generator, however, things can stop altogether during the evening hours.

That is where the faulty cable detecting vehicle that NPA has purchased comes in.

Edward Parkinson is one of the senior technicians who works with the vehicle. He said technicians used to have to dig up entire streets trying to find broken cables. "With this new equipment, it will reduce the down time and also it will help us locate faults at a faster rate."

He explained that the equipment in the vehicle can detect a faulty cable within a few hours. Previously, it could take weeks to figure that out.

Scott Gavin, the deputy general manager for NPA, said his hope is the vehicle also will help the country have power 24/7 within about two years, by detecting faulty cables quickly and repairing power faster.

"And because of the ease with which we can do it, improved technology, within an hour or two, depending on the length of cable, we are able to pinpoint the fault and then we can request for permission if it's along a road, so that excavations can take place," said Gavin.

The vehicle is able to detect problems with medium and low voltage. And because it can be done efficiently, this means customers will have power quickly restored, and not as many people will be affected while excavations are underway.

Effective tool

Gavin said this device has been on the market only for about one year, and it already is being used worldwide. It costs NPA about $230,000. He said it was built in Germany by a company called SebaKMT and although various similar models have been around for decades, this new one - known as the "System Classic" - had all the features NPA needed.

"This one we requested for a complete set, that would help us identify cables in the ground, do location [find] in the event of faults, and do the necessary tests all in one vehicle. So you drive the vehicle, it has a generator in case there's no power at that location, so you just operate the generator and you can power the equipment," said Gavin.

This is all good news to people like Momoh Kamara, a 33-year-old who works as a caretaker at a compound in the western area of Freetown. Like many Sierra Leoneons, he cannot afford a generator and so when there is no national power provided, he just has to make do.

"For example, when you have food, you are not able to store it more than one day, it affects that area greatly and overnight when you have problem, get a funny sound, like thieves, for you to detect [them], it's difficult because the place is dark and whenever they come around if the place is dark, he will have the chance to do whatever he wants to do, so it's terrible to live in a place where there is no electricity," said Kamara.

Kamara also said that when it's dark, snakes slither around some houses at night and will sometimes attack.

Gavin of the National Power Authority knows the cable-fault-detecting vehicle alone cannot bring back full power to the country, though it certainly can help.

And that assistance is something for which Kamara and many other Sierra Leoneons are hoping.

You May Like

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid